What is True?
Pastor David gives his annual address on our challenges and hopes for the next year.
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
It doesn’t take long today to figure out that’s something’s broken with the world…with us.
Just turn on the news. Scroll through Facebook.
The world is broken.
And many people are quite unhappy.
And it doesn’t matter if we go forward or backwards in time, the verdict is going to be the same.
Go backwards…to the Gulf Wars…the struggles in Vietnam, the turmoil of the 60’s, the millions dead from WWII in the 40’s, lives ruined by the Great Depression of the 30’s.
And we can keep going.
And even when we go forward into the future, it’s not going to get fixed.
Think about all of the advances we have over someone of the middle ages.
And yet…we’re still depressed.
And it all boils down to the fact that WE are broken.
We have a sinful nature…and we all bring sin to this fallen world.
And it’s been that way since almost the beginning of our human history.
Since Adam & Eve first made that decision to disobey God and change the course of history forever.
This morning…we’re going to be starting an intriguing new series called, “From the Beginning.”
And for 4 weeks, we’re going to study that first and fateful sin of Adam & Eve, and how it relates to us today.
Specifically, how we seem to repeat their sin…by using almost the same methods…by falling for almost identical lies.
Now, you might be thinking at the outset…this seems kind of dark.
Do we really need to spend 4 weeks talking about SIN…and how to avoid it??
Pretty much every problem in the world boils down to be a sin issue.
Sin is everywhere. And for many of us…it’s ruining our lives…whether we want to admit or not.
And even if you’re a Christian, it’s usually the main obstacle that’s stopping you from really progressing in your relationship with Jesus.
And so UNDERSTANDING it is critical.
Have you ever stopped to actually understand your sin?
That’s what I’m talking about here.
This isn’t going to be 4 weeks on “Don’t do this and don’t do that”
It’s going to be 4-weeks on Understanding HOW sin works..
...Understanding how your enemy (the devil) works…and how we seem to fall for the same familiar lies”
And I believe…that if you can understand some of these familiar patterns, you’ll better be able to actually live for and glorify God with your life…which is what you were created for.
So, we’re going to be studying what’s called, “The Fall” in the Bible.
It’s the fall of humanity from a perfect and sinless state into a nature in which we are now prone to sin.
It’s Adam & Eve’s original sin.
(Genesis 3:1-6) – NIV
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” 4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
Now, this serpent, is the devil. Satan.
We know this from other Scriptures in the Bible.
For example, when the devil is being defeated in the Book of Revelation, John writes this:
(Revelation 12:9) – NIV
9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
And he’s the one tempting Eve (and Adam) to sin.
Before we go any further, let me just make a quick aside.
It’s important to point out that sin always comes from 3 places
Not just 1…it’s not always the devil behind every bush.
It can come from the devil.
He is a real being…and his number one goal is to get you to disobey God
And if he’s convinced you he’s not real, he’s already off to a good start.
But 2, sin can also be birthed from your sinful nature (your flesh the Bible calls it)
(James 1:14-15) – NIV
14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
And thirdly, sin can come from the temptation of other people.
Usually it’s some combination of those 3.
DESTRUCTION OF TRUTH (Sin destroys the idea of God’s goodness)
And here, in the garden, the devil tempts eve to sin.
But he does so in a manner that is typical of how he operates, but atypical of how the average person thinks of him.
It’s often been said, “The devil didn’t hit Eve with a stick, but with an idea”
Or sin is not a fang bite in the neck, but a false idea in the heart
I want you to notice what the serpent is doing here.
It is CRITICAL that you understand how sin works here.
He doesn’t physically attack eve.
He doesn’t even go after the existence of God
He tells her, “God is WRONG”
“What He told you is not true.
“You don’t even know what is true.
“Let me tell you what is true…
And he says in verse 1, “Did God REALLY say…you must not eat of any tree from the garden?!?”
Which, first of all, is a lie.
Here’s what God really said to Adam by the way:
(Genesis 2:16-17) – NIV
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
So, God actually told Adam that they could eat of ANY tree that they wanted…just not 1 of them.
It’s a picture of the incredible FREEDOM we have in Christ.
We’re free to enjoy life in MILLIONS of different ways…and the number of things that God tells us NOT to do (in comparison)…is incredibly small.
But the devil is trying to get the opposite ideology across to Eve
He’s saying, “Did God really say that? Wow. What a loser. What a killjoy. Must be a bummer to be you guys. You’re in this beautiful garden, and you can’t even enjoy the fruits of it. Bummer.”
Notice…he’s hitting her first with an idea.
He’s not handing out money or promising power.
Just an idea.
A false one.
And what’s he really saying? What is he trying to do?
He’s trying to get them to believe that God isn’t really good.
He’s trying to get Eve to question the truth.
And when you’re trying to figure out what’s true and what isn’t…that’s usually what’s behind the lie.
The allure of sin makes you feel like God’s ways aren’t actually good, and aren’t really true.
That they’re not really what’s best for you.
We think, “I know God says that I should wait to have sex before I’m married…but…BUT…that’s…that’s so archaic.
That’s like being in a beautiful garden, and not being able to enjoy the fruits of it”
And what are you starting to believe?
Exactly what sin will always lead you to believe:
That God’s ways aren’t really what’s best for YOU.
The devil says to Eve, ”Listen, eat the fruit.”
“You’re not going to die.”
“God knows (he’s not telling you this) that when you eat of it…your eyes will be opened!”
In other words, what’s he doing here?
He’s trying to say, “God knows that if you eat of this…your eyes will be open, and then you’ll REALLY come alive! What a wild ride!”
“You won’t die! You’ll come alive baby! You’ll be able to broaden your horizons. Don’t obey God…. BORING. LAME”
“And God KNOWS that, but He lies to you so you’ll be his puppet”
“But He’s not right. He’s not telling the truth. He doesn’t really want what’s Good for you”
And isn’t that the great lie that humans believe about God?
“If we obey all of God’s commands…we will miss out.”
“We’ll miss out on all the fun”
Teenagers wrestle with this.
“If I obey God and don’t get drunk like my friends…I’ll miss out
Young adults wrestle with this.
“If I obey God and don’t sleep around…I’m going to miss out….this is my chance to enjoy sex before I get married to one person. I don’t want to miss out. God is holding me back from what’s good.
Adults wrestle with this.
“If I obey God and make every decision with Him in mind…then I…
“May not get my dream home
“I may not get to travel to all the places I want
“I won’t get to do what I want with my money
“I won’t get to just blend in at work and look like everyone else…
“Maybe God’s ways aren’t what’s best for me?!”
Are you seeing the pattern?
This is the lie of sin that we constantly fall for everyday.
That God’s ways aren’t the true ways.
That God isn’t ultimately Good.
That God doesn’t ultimately have our best in mind.
Timothy Keller says it this way, “The first step of sin is not disobedience, it’s the resentment of obedience” – Timothy Keller (repeat)
Let me explain what he means.
Once sin has been planted in their hearts and minds, and they begin to doubt…what causes them to take it a step further?
It’s not just an excitement of sin (of disobedience), but a resentment of obedience.
Too many Christians think the only reason they sin must be because sin in itself is SO exciting and appealing, that they just must not be able to resist.
I have guys tell me all the time, “How am I supposed to stop lusting? Pornography is everywhere. Women are beautiful. Sin is just too exciting.”
“The fruit on the tree just looks too good”
But don’t forget that there’s another side to WHY we’re sinning (this is the resentment of obedience)
The choice of sin is a push and a pull.
We’ll pulled by the allure of sin, but we often first push our own selves to sin as we look back at the commands of God and resent them.
We think, “ These commands are just holding me down…stealing real life from me”
And so, we do, what Adam and Eve did.
The serpent told them, “That’s not true,” and so they decided to CONDUCT AN EXPERIMENT to find out what was really true.
And isn’t that what we do…all day long??
We “conduct experiments” to find out what’s really true.
We decide to take our doubts about God’s goodness, and test them out to see if we can get the results we’re really looking for
For example, On Wednesday afternoon, my day was going miserably wrong, and I was just trying to get home (on New Year’s Eve no less) to see my kids before they went to bed
But one thing after another just kept coming up
And I knew that God would rather have me pray, or call a friend, or just count to 10…rather than lash out in anger.
But I decided to “conduct an experiment” and see what would happen if I just pounded my first into my desk and yelled.
Turns out it didn’t help
But what’s fascinating about us as humans is that we CAN’T STOP conducting experiments on sin.
Even as Christians. We know God’s Word…and His truth…
But we keep saying, “But maybe it’ll be different this time when my rip my co-worker in front of all my friends. Maybe I’ll feel better”
Or, “I know I’m running myself and my family into the ground by working all of these late hours…but maybe this year will be different. Maybe this NEXT promotion will finally make me feel satisfied in my job”
But let me give you a strong warning on the danger of habitually doubting God’s Word and Conducting Experiments to see if sin is actually a more true way to live…
It’s a bit like alcoholism. Or any addiction.
The alcoholic, or the addict, slowly erases their senses and sensitivities.
At first they feel bad at taking that second or third drink.
But not after a while.
But they still feel bad about sneaking a drink in the liquor store parking lot.
But…not after a while
But then they still feel bad about getting so wasted that they showed up late to work
But…not after a while
And it’s the same thing with your faith and sin.
If you continually doubt that God’s ways are better are for you, and continually choose sin…
Eventually you’ll lose your sensitivity to the holiness of it all.
You’re going to lose respect and esteem for God’s Word.
TV is a great example here.
I’m always flabbergasted by what Christians watch on TV.
If you’re always watching TV, and not thinking much about the type of language, ideology, and sexuality you’re letting into your brain…eventually you won’t even notice the crudeness of it anymore.
This is the type of thing about us that is just shocking to Christians of other countries.
But we’ve just doubted that God’s ways are better so many times, that we’ve lost all sensitivity to it.
We’re so disoriented on what is good, that sin has become the new truth.
But, we can get reoriented. We can find truth again.
Because it all works the opposite way as well.
See, the more and more you can learn the pattern of trust and obedience, the more natural it will feel.
The more you can, in the midst of temptation, say, “I know that I THINK it would feel better just dwell on how much I hate my boss, sister, my former friend….BUT God says that’s sin.”
“And sin doesn’t work. It leads to spiritual death.
“God says that I should give him my burdens.
“I’m going to pray and give it up to him and trust in His ways.
If you do that…it’s not going to be easy…it might not even feel good…at first.
But when you choose forgiveness over resentment…
When you choose purity over lust…
When you choose generosity over greed…
Eventually, you’re going to find the real goodness and real truth you were looking for all along.
And that’s going to help you better obey God…and trust Him…in the future
I feel like, in my life, this has been one of my biggest growth areas as a follower of Christ.
And I’ve had a lot of growing to do.
I feel like, the more I’ve conducted this brand new experiment of, “Let’s actually (for once!) try doing it God’s way and NOT get angry…and not get envious…”
I feel like, it’s really increased my trust in Him.
I mean, isn’t that how basic trust works in a relationship anyway?
Your trust in a person grows over time after you learn how TRUSTWORTHY they really are.
THIS IS BIGGER THAN JUST GOOD ETHICS
HOWEVER…even though that is indeed true (and I think a good start), this isn’t just about trusting in the right system.
Your life isn’t going to get better only because you determine that one set of ethics or morality works better than another one.
You can’t just apply the commands of the Bible and hope sin starts knocking at your door less.
No, you need to trust in your loving Father…not just a system.
It’s a great system. And it’s true.
But we don’t just believe in a set of ethics…we have a RELATIONSHIP with God
Let me give you three reasons on why that matters in conquering sin.
Number One: Sometimes you’ll need to trust God even when it doesn’t make sense.
For example: I was trying to get my daughter to let me blow dry her hair the other day instead of using a towel.
She thought it was a great idea at first, but then looked at me like, “Daddy, why would you torture me with this gun-like machine?”
And I said to her, “Honey, Daddy loves you. He just wanted to try this because it’s faster and better. He wouldn’t do it if it would hurt you”
And there are going to be times in your life when almost NOTHING in you understands, or even wants to, obey God.
And in those moments (which come more often than we’d like), if you’re just obeying God because you think Christianity is a nice way to live…you’ll never obey him in that moment.
The temptation will be too strong.
But if you can trust that this is MORE than a system…but that there’s a brilliant God behind it…than…you might be able to avoid sin.
Number Two, and I wish I had more time for this one, but I don’t…
When you’re standing on that fence, trying to decide what really is true…what really is good…
What you really need is the power of the Holy Spirit.
It’s not as simple as just trusting God’s way is better (that’s a start)
But you need to pray to God for the power to actually carry that out and obey Him.
And He can do that because the moment that we become a Christian, that power now lives within us!
But we’ve got to ask him and surrender to Him.
Then thirdly, the fact that it’s a relationship matters because you need to know that God has put these things in place for you BECAUSE HE LOVES YOU!
In our world today, the devil is still doing what he did to Eve.
He’s destroying the image of God…He’s destroying God’s goodness.
When you ask people on the street to describe God, too many people think God is merely some “Angry Cop in the sky with a whole lot of rules…who maybe occasionally answers a 911 call”
And if that’s who you think God is…when sin is burning within you…and wants to EXPLODE out of you…
Is it really going to be enough to say, “I shouldn’t do this…this is bad.”?
Is it really going to be enough to say, “But Christianity’s morality will work better for me”
No way. It’ll never be enough.
What you need is not to develop a new list of “right and wrong,” you need to change your picture of who this God who gave you “right and wrong” really is in the first place!
If you’re going to answer this KEY question of “What is really true?”…you need to have the TRUE facts about WHO God is.
See, one of the reasons that God is so serious about sin in the first place is because God is serious about you.
Because you are his daughter. His son.
Think of it this way…any good parent has a list of right and wrong for their child.
Why is it that parents are so serious about telling their toddler they CAN NOT touch the fireplace when it’s on or that they CAN NOT cross the road with out them?
Is it because they’re just “fireplace safety evangelists?”
NO! It’s because they love you…and they don’t want harm to come to you!
So yeah, they’re serious about their rules, but because they love you.
Don’t let sin…and don’t let the devil lie to you anymore.
The devil doesn’t love you.
I think…so many Christians don’t choose God over sin…because deep down (whether they admit or not), they do not truly comprehend the depth of God’s love.
Let me speak some truth into your life right now.
God is not a killjoy.
He’s not trying to rob your life of fun and pleasure
In fact, quite the opposite.
He’s your loving father.
And He’s brilliant.
So brilliant that He knows every landmine before you’ll even step on it
See, God’s not a killjoy…He’s the source of joy. He’s the PATH to Joy. He IS Joy.
And when he tells you not to do something, it’s because He knows that, in the end, it’ll suck your joy, not give you joy.
And that joy is found in loving, obeying, and worshipping your Loving Father!
And that’s the truth! Let’s pray.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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